ATHENS — Much like other businesses that were forced to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Spalding Memorial Library in Athens was forced to adapt in a manner in which its staff could work from home.

“I think a lot of what we do transfers over to the digital world fairly easily,” Library Director Tiffany Robbins-Gigee said.

“My children’s librarian, basically the first week we were closed, moved storytime online,” she said.

The stories are read every Friday morning on the library’s Facebook page.

Staff members have also been using this time for education, participating in different webinar trainings, while also keeping in touch with the library’s customers.

“All of the staff took turns making phone calls to some of our patrons, just to check in with them, make sure they were doing okay, and let them know what resources they could find online if they were looking for them,” Robbins-Gigee said.

Much of the library catalog can be found on the OverDrive database. People simply need their library card to access the site.

“I really ramped up the number of ebooks that I ordered … in order to accomodate things moving online,” said Robbins-Gigee.

While some businesses in Bradford County can start opening on Friday, libraries are classified under the Department of Education. Pennsylvania schools are closed for the remainder of the academic year.

While no reopening date has been established yet, Robbins-Gigee said staff could return as soon as next week.

“We’ve got a big backlog of things that need to be processed, and taken care of, and books to be checked in and put away,” she said. “We’ll probably just take a week to go in and clean up, and then I think tentatively open for curbside service before the month is over. It just depends on how things go and how the situation is.”

People can place holds on books on the library website, they could also call or email.

“We even respond to Facebook messages,” Robbins-Gigee said.

Aside from getting operations back to normal, Robbins-Gigee is tasked with creating a safe and sanitary environment for staff and patrons alike. That includes finding a way to enforce proper social distancing at the circulation desk, which is located near the entrance.

“To make this work for the new regulations, I’m going to have to put sneeze guards all the way around the desk,” she said. “Now, I’m faced with how to retrofit this on this desk which is from 1897, and hopefully not destroy the piece of furniture, but also have something that is safe and sturdy.”

“It’s a new challenge,” she added. “We’ve been through a lot of different challenges, so I’m sure we’ll make it work.”

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